Of the nearly 25,000 houses insulated in Canterbury under the government insulation scheme, nearly 5,000 (4908) were insulated by Christchurch-based Community Energy Action Charitable Trust. The government insulation scheme, Warm Up New Zealand: Heat Smart, started in 2009.
Only 20% (1063) of Community Energy Action’s clients are private landlords (social housing doesn’t qualify for the scheme). However nationally, 44% of people do not own their own home (source: 2006 census, includes social housing).
Community Energy Action provides subsidies for all incomes with higher subsidies for low incomes. Nearly three quarter of the houses insulated by the trust (3569) were low income households. Just under half had a health problem which was affected by a cold house (2361).
“The government scheme has done much to ensure houses in Canterbury are much warmer than they were before,” says Sheila Hailstone, Chief Executive of Community Energy Action. “And we applaud the many landlords who take their responsibility seriously and provide a good quality rental with insulation and efficient heating.”
“However the figures also do highlight there is a portion of landlords who do not want to make these investments, often despite their tenants’ pleas. And in the current Christchurch rental crisis, many tenants do not have much choice.”
Rental properties with low income tenants qualify for the same high insulation subsidies as low income homeowners.
“We are especially concerned where people have a medical condition such as asthma, bronchitis, arthritis or heart disease. These conditions are often negatively affected by a cold house.”
Community Energy Action Charitable Trust has been installing insulation since 1994 and is one of the biggest retrofit insulation providers in Christchurch. It has installed insulation in more than 17,000 homes since it was founded. It also runs a Curtain Bank, providing recycled curtains to low income households and provides a free Energy Advice Service.